How to use technology in the classroom has been a topic of discussion among educators for some time. Technology is changing classroom instruction as the cost of computing hardware drops and demand for Web access increases. The current generation of teachers are dependent on technology as part of their lesson plans. However, rather than adapting old lesson plans to include technology, educators are rethinking teaching strategies by building new teaching models with technology as a foundation.
Technology has already transformed the classroom. According to a 2009 report compiled by the National Centre for Education Statistics with the Department of Education, 74 percent of public school teachers said technology helped them expand lesson content and motivate students, even though the classroom student-to-computer ratio in 2009 was 5.3 students for every computer. Today, 92 percent of teachers say the Internet has had a major impact on teaching, and 73 percent of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers say that students are now using their smartphones for classroom assignments. Equipping students with computers and tablets improves writing – 96 percent of teachers say technology allows students to share their work, 79 percent say it encourages collaboration, and 98 percent say technology promotes creativity. There were 3.5 million tablets purchased by U.S. schools in 2014, and in 2015 45 states are giving standardized tests via electronic devices.
With personal computing now part of the classroom, teachers are adopting new strategies that focus more on one-to-one and instruction so students learn at their own pace.
The Move to Flipped LearningAccess to personal computing technology now makes it possible for students to explore subjects and do more independent study, both inside and outside the classroom. Teachers are developing lesson plans designed to allow students to explore the material on their own, working with the teacher for guidance and to validate what they have learned.
With the flipped classroom, students are encouraged to teach themselves. Rather than studying at home and reviewing the same material in class, flipped learning presents the students with videos and interactive materials they can study at home, and class time is used for advanced concepts and collaborative learning.
Technology is enabling the flipped classroom by giving educators access to more digital interactive materials and facilitating data sharing. Rather than handing out homework assignments, flipped classroom lessons are recorded and can be stored in a cloud-based data repository so students can access and share them from anywhere; no more excuses that you didn’t get the homework assignment.
Technology also allows teachers to assess student progress in new ways. Many assignments can now be graded automatically, and metrics are generated to assess class performance a well as individual performance as it relates to the class. Metrics quickly reveal how well students understand the material and call out those students that are struggling and need special attention.
The Technology Needed for the Connected ClassroomTo support individual instruction and enable strategies like flipped instruction, the classroom needs to have certain technologies in place:
Personal ComputingEvery student needs a personal computer or mobile computing device. This could be a laptop, netbook, tablet, or even a smartphone, but students need to have access to an Internet-enabled system both in the classroom and at home.
Internet AccessSecure access to the Web and shared files is essential. According to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of U.S. adults access the Internet, and not surprisingly, the lower the income, the lower the Internet usage. For strategies like flipped learning to work, there must be a level playing field where all students have web access.
Collaboration ToolsSecure collaboration is also essential. Teachers and students need to share files online, and teachers need to share information and assignments with one another. A new trend among teachers is to exchange recorded lessons, allowing staff experts to deliver instruction on science, social studies, English, etc., and using a central data repository makes it easier to archive and share lesson plans.
Streaming ContentFlipped instruction lessons are typically video, which means students and teachers need sufficient network bandwidth in the classroom to handle file transfers and video streaming. Since students are using mobile devices, that means creating a wireless network using the latest technology.
There are other just some of the enabling technologies needed in today’s classrooms. The right technology can help educators be more effective, but school systems need a strategic plan to determine where to invest their IT budget.
NSI works with schools and school systems of all sizes, helping them develop a technology roadmap and implement the right technology to meet their educational and budgetary requirements. We guide our educational customers through classroom networking requirements, cloud computing strategies, data security, and more.
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